December 14, 2017

Written by Art Petrosemolo

Late in 2016, Jennifer Lawrence starred in a movie called Passengers with Chris Pratt. They were a pair of twenty-something strangers on a 90-year journey in a luxury spacecraft to a new world. In suspended animation like all of the 2000 passengers, they, unfortunately, were awakened early because of a computer malfunction and had to make the best of it. And, ultimately they did.

As December 2017 winds down, I have thought of this movie several times (and not just because I am a big fan of Jennifer Lawrence). On the 28th of last December, Tina and I moved from the central New Jersey shore (near Red Bank) to Sycamore Springs. We were the first couple in what was – at the time – a construction zone so we named our home “The Outpost.” It was an adventure that lasted well into spring.

We literally woke up in a new place, a new environment, with everything in front of us and – like Lawrence and Pratt – had no option to say “No, not for us, let’s go back to our old life.”

So, one year later as I look forward I wanted to stop and take stock of the past 12 months. I wonder if any of our Garden Spot Village friends reading this are smiling with similar experiences or potential residents are thinking “Will this be me?”

After a year, even with some pangs about the things I left behind (living on the shore), I can say, unequivocally, it is better here!

Many of our new friends at Garden Spot Village are from Pennsylvania, and some quite close to New Holland. That surprised us. Although they too had to make some changes in their lives fairly quickly, the locale was basically the same. They kept their PA driver’s license, many still go to the same doctors, they kept their bank, etc.

For Tina and me, the move was literally to a new place – away from what we had become accustomed to the past two decades – just like Lawrence and Pratt – for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, we knew Lancaster County as I had worked at Franklin and Marshall College early (1970s) in my career but as anyone who has lived her for more than a few years knows, WOW, this place has changed.

So, what’s my take on retirement community living? The answer is it’s a work in progress and I am probably not the first person who has discovered same. Was it the right decision? Yes, for sure. Retiring in New Jersey with the taxes, the traffic, the congestion, the taxes and oh, did I mention the taxes did not make sense.

Is it everything I had hoped for? The answer is 99% yes but I’d like it to be on navigable water and I don’t consider the Susquehanna River navigable!

Are we happy in our home? An unqualified yes. Who would not be happy when something breaks and instead of checking Angie’s list for the best plumber, carpenter or electrician, you dial maintenance? And although we downsized our stuff, Tina and I actually have more space here than we did in New Jersey.
OK Art, so what’s the fuss?

You learn quickly when you make life altering decisions, (and this one is probably the last one that we make on where we live) the brain has to catch up with the change and it does so gradually.

Adjusting to not having to get up for work five days a week but having something, literally, to get up for is critical. For Tina, it is the community. She is a member of several clubs and organizations and is a candidate for the cottage council for 2018. When she retired from work, she retired from work.

For me, I had to find a sense of purpose and, for now, that means I needed to continue to work. Since I am a writer and photographer, doing feature stories for the local weekly newspapers, the daily paper in Pittsburgh plus Destination Magazine and a weekly Garden Spot Village blog has been that.

I overdid it in the beginning. I was working more than enjoying retirement and I am sure I am not the only one who does that. I wasn’t able to balance the work with the “being retired” until maybe the last month or so. I still get up Monday through Friday and swim nearly a mile at 5am. But now I plan my day much differently. I rarely work in my second floor 507 Keyser Way, Sycamore Springs man cave past noon.

Unless I am on a writing deadline, I spend the afternoons reading, studying Italian, washing my car, visiting Amish and Mennonite farms with new friends who have helped me with my feature stories, or just chilling in my old barn rocker in the garage overlooking the grazing horses a quarter of a mile away.

I think, over time, my day just might tilt more in that direction. Today, I see many of our new Sycamore Springs friends chilling a little more than I am and I wonder if I am missing something. I’ll let you know in 12 months when I’m two years in!

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